The 9th Biennial Golden Trowel Award, organised by the Concrete Masonry Association of Australia and TAFE Western, was held at Bathurst in NSW. Winner of the 2009 Golden Trowel Award is the TAFE Western team from Bathurst TAFE College. A Bathurst team won the previous 2007 Award but, of course the 2009 team was made up of different apprentices and even a different teacher.
Thirteen teams (8 from NSW and one each from A.C.T, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia) competed for the prestigious award.
Each team, comprising a class teacher, Stage 2 student and Stage 3 student, completed a detailed building project to a set plan with a given quantity of concrete blocks.
For onlookers, the quality of work and workmanship was astonishing. Each team seemed to approach the task in a different way, but the final projects were indistinguishable to anyone without detailed industry experience. The judges were industry professionals and trainers.
The competition proved an ideal platform to showcase the features of concrete block construction and also the skills of the competing apprentices.
After the competition each competing team was recognised at an industry dinner with presentations of "gold" spirit levels. Most of the teams were formed after competitions held across each state or in the case of NSW teams, across their TAFE institutes.
It was an honour for each team member to be representing their state or Institute at the event.
Nigel Croke, was a member of the wining team in 2007, and went on to represent Australia in Brick and Block Laying at the 2009 WorldSkills Competition in Calgary, Canada in 2009 where he won a Bronze Medal. Nigel was present during the 2009 Golden Trowel Award at Bathurst, where he said that his experience in the previous competition had completely changed his attitude to his work.
"It wasn't just about laying bricks anymore, I could see much greater challenges, and different ways to approach the job" Nigel now works in Sydney, and says the majority of work he is now asked to do is more complex, which often involves interesting architecture.
The Concrete Masonry Association's Executive Director, Alan Pearson expressed confidence in the skills demonstrated at the Golden Trowel Award. Alan said "Young tradesmen like the competitors in this award are critical to the future of our industry. They are being creative developing exacting skills and are efficient in their craft"
"It is a great credit to their teachers and also their employers who play a critical role in apprenticeship training. They also encourage and support their apprentices to achieve higher standards and great skills"
The next Golden Trowel Award will be held in 2011.